I have a short statement to make to the House. I have received a request from the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed that he should be called in the House and described in parliamentary papers as Lord Lambton. In my view the practice of the House is that hon. Members should be called and described as they wish, and as they are known in their constituencies. I have therefore decided to accede to this request.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We all appreciate that we must bow to your Ruling and that the only way I can dissent from it is to put down a Motion on the Order Paper. Before I do that I should be grateful if you would tell the House what degree of precedence this gives to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed. What other evidence have you had in addition to that which Mr. Speaker King had when he gave a completely contrary Ruling? Are hon. Members in future expected to address the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed as "the noble Lord", or treat him as Lord George Sanger was treated in his day?
As to the point about my predecessor, the question was put to him in rather different terms. I do not think courtesy titles or whether hon. Members should be called "noble" have anything to do with me. I have simply to decide whether I preserve the right of
hon. Members to be called in this House as they wish to be called and as they are called in their constituencies. At the last General Election the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed was elected and this was on his ballot paper:
Lambton, Antony Claud Frederick, commonly called Lord Lambton.
He was elected as such. There are several hon. Members in this House who are called by names which are not their own —[Laughter.]—and until I am directed otherwise, without pronouncing on these other matters I feel that I must conform to the practice.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask whether you agree with the statement of Lord Jellicoe in another place on 25th November last that courtesy titles were not a matter for the Government because they were not titles in law? If this is the case, surely my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed has no less a right to the use of a courtesy title now than he had in the lifetime of his father?
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You made the point that on his nomination paper the hon. Member referred to himself as "commonly known as Lord Lambton", but the clerk when returning the Writ did not put that upon the Writ returned to the House. The hon. Member had to renounce that title, and when one drowns a title one drowns everything that comes through it. Are you aware that the Leader of the House at the time, the late Mr. Iain Macleod, made it perfectly clear when I tackled him on this point that we cannot legislate for nonsense? He said that courtesy titles were a nonsense and that was implicit in the 1963 Act.
Surely the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) is in error of fact when he says that the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed renounced his courtesy title as Lord Lambton? What he renounced was the Earldom of Durham. He could not renounce the courtesy title under the provisions by which he actually renounced the Earldom of Durham.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask whether your Ruling is subject to debate? Is this a matter for the Leader of the House or would it be the subject of a substantive Motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell)? This is part of the irrelevant nonsense that takes place in this House far too often. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed is seeking to have his cake and eat it. He simply cannot have it. If he is to be known in that way I want to be called Lord Fife from now on.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point of order has nothing to do with Lord Lambton, Mr. Lambton or any other Lambton. You have given a Ruling that hon. Members of this House should be addressed by the title they wish to use, and I suggest that it is about time that all hon. Members in this House who served in the Armed Forces, who were not officers but members of the lower ranks, like myself, should from now on be called "gallant" in this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is about time we got away from this snobbery in this House. "Gallant" gentlemen who were officers were no more gallant than the chap who was a private and who got shot at in just the same way as the so-called "gallant" gentlemen. From now on, Mr. Speaker, when I am addressed in this House I want hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House to refer to me as the "gallant Gentleman from Walton".
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. While in no way disputing the courtesy title aspect of your Ruling, may I refer to the point in your statement when you said that the noble Lord is referred to as Lord Lambton in his constituency. Surely this is irrelevant because another parliamentary candidate was Screaming Lord Sutch. If returned to this House he would have had the title of Lord Sutch, which would have been ridiculous. Could you make clear that the nomenclature, the familiar name, has no relevance to your Ruling?
Further to the point raised by the "hon. and gallant Member" for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). Why should the epithet "learned" be confined to members of the legal profession? Are not those who consider themselves to be learned entitled to be so called.